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What is an Interior Stylist?

Hi All,

I thought I would write a post today on exactly what an Interior Stylist does as I have realised lately that quite a lot of people have a) never heard of a Stylist and b) when I explain it to them- can’t believe that it’s a real job!

Quite a number of people don’t realise that the images that you see in a magazine/catalogue/website/blog had someone that created a concept and brought it to life- most people think that you simply turn up to a residential or commercial property and just shoot what you see. That couldn’t be further from the truth! So, here are the basics: (I also want to say that all shoots are different. Some are huge and some are much more simple. Some require weeks of planning and some don’t. Some require a huge team and others I do on my own. This is just an overview of what is possible on any shoot that I undertake).

– I call myself a Project Manager as well as a Stylist. This is because I am creatively in control of most of my shoots/ projects from beginning to end. There are often many other creatives involved i.e a creative agency, an editor, designers etc however on a lot of the projects I work on it is just me and the client that see the project out from beginning to end.

Stylists are used for a range of projects from advertisements to press lookbooks, magazine shoots, web shoots etc.

Interior Styling Aram Store

Aram Store | Styling: Lucy Gough | Photography: Simon Bevan

– The creative concept comes together after researching trends, (usually a lot of research is involved for each project and takes up a large percentage of my time) moodboarding looks and ideas, colour palettes, surfaces, lighting effects, camera angles and anything needed to get your vision across.

– You need to find the perfect location for a shoot. Stylists have a number of contacts with location agencies to help with this but once you find a location there is a usually a recce involved to make sure it fits the brief, also to make sure there is good access to the property (you have to make sure that sofa fits through the door!), you may also need to measure up areas for when you brief the set builder.

– I had to source ninety vintage cameras and ninety pairs of black high heels for a shoot a few months back and without the knowledge of where to source these- I would have been stumped to have found them in the time frame. If you need period furniture, retro technology, flat surfaces like marble, stone or timber, or a twenty-piece table setting in an obscure colour – you name it and a Stylist or their assistant can source it. That’s half the fun of the job! Then there is the crafty side where I might find myself spraying fruit with gold paint, squeezing an 8ft willow tree into the back of a cab, dip-dying curtains in my bathroom on a Sunday (yes, I have done all of these) and this is what makes my job such a joy- you never know what your next job will entail!

Interior Styling | Styling: Lucy Gough | Photography: Simon Bevan

– It goes without saying that the photographer is as important as the Stylist. They bring knowledge, skills, equipment, some put their Art Director hat on too, lighting expertise, re-touching skills and other things to bring your vision to life. I’m lucky to have worked with some absolutely incredible photographers and they are one of the reasons I love my job so much. When a Stylist and Photographer come together with the same vision- it’s such an incredible buzz to know you’re creating visual imagery that is new and unique.

– Using a great assistant can make or break a shoot too. A brilliant assistant knows where to source the best props, has high street and high-end designer knowledge, is able to get things done quickly and is strong (physically) and very creative. I have a number of assistants that I have been working with for a while and who know me well and are usually one step ahead of me!

Interior Styling Brintons

Brintons | Styling: Lucy Gough | Photography: Jan Baldwin

– I often use set builders if my concept requires me to build a set or add to/alter an existing location to fit the brief. Other specialists may also be required for the shoot i.e seamstress/artists/craftsmen and all bring their own invaluable experience. This is along with using a reliable transport company to pick up my props and take to the shoot and return afterward.

– Then there’s the admin duties of keeping to a budget, all the email conversations, changing the concept if need be etc.

Bearing in mind all the things detailed above happen PRE-shoot and often in a very short time scale and with multiple jobs at once- so I have to have my eyes on the ball at all times!

– The morning of the shoot: I get up and go to the flower market in the morning-usually at around 6am (this is actually one of my favourite parts of the job!) Then, the idea is that I  have prepped so thoroughly that when I arrive on set and meet the client, the photographer, my assistant/s, the set builder, the seamstress and everybody else involved- it should all run smoothly and it’s time to make the magic happen!

Often, there is a lot of moving existing furniture from the house so you can take over the space, set up the shot, shoot it and move onto the next one.. until all the shots are taken- in a time frame that can vary from one day to many weeks depending on the job.

Interior Styling Surface View

Surface View | Styling: Lucy Gough | Photography: Christina Bull

Then, when you stand back and look at what you have created on screen it is the best feeling in the world- to think that you have succeeded in creating your vision that started from an idea all those weeks before!

Needless to say there is A LOT that is involved in a shoot. The actual day shooting on location is only a small portion of what needs to happen to make it all come together- but it’s the best bit. The part where everyone is excited to be there on set. After a while you start to feel a bit like an extended family- often seeing the same team of people on different shoots in different locations. I feel very lucky to be part of this world!

Hopefully this has given you a bit of an insight into the crazy world of styling. Everything that you have read above is what can happen on a project, however,  sometimes not all the steps are needed and sometimes there are even more elements that are required.- but hopefully it gives you a broad overview.

Have a great week!


Interior Stylist Sunday Times

Sunday Times Style Mag | Styling: Lucy Gough | Photography: Xavier Young


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